With the 60th Annual Grammy Awards happening this Sunday night, I am getting nostalgic about one of the coolest musical experiences of my life. In 2005, I had the awesome fortune of winning a trip to the Grammys from Q102. I won through the Q102 Rewards program on the radio station’s website. Every day I would log on and answer trivia questions, enter daily code words, and do other things to earn points. I had been saving up points for several months and I used up all of them on entries for this trip. By the time the contest ended, I had over 3,000 entries. I am nothing if not persistent!
On the day that the winner was going to be picked, I could barely contain myself. Suddenly the phone rang and the caller on the other end introduced himself and said he was from Q102; my heart started pounding furiously and dropped into my stomach.
I’ll never forget the excitement of landing at LAX. Just getting out of Cincinnati for a whole weekend in a cold dreary February was awesome enough. A friend once described me as the most music-obsessed and California-obsessed person she knew, so this trip was definitely a dream come true.
The radio station put us up at the Wyndham Belage Hotel, just off the Sunset Strip. On our first night there, we attended a meet and greet with British singer Joss Stone. She is truly a supremely talented individual, and she was exceptionally kind and gracious.
The next morning we set out on foot to do some exploring. I was surprised to learn that we were right around the corner from the Whiskey-a-Go-Go. Having read many rock music biographies about such varied artists as the Doors and Motley Crue, I was familiar with the history of the place. I couldn’t help thinking, “Jim Morrison stood on this sidewalk!”
The ceremony was the following evening. I’ll never forget the feeling of getting ready in our hotel room and putting on my lavender silk Grammy dress. (It was the first dress I had tried on. It fit well, and it made me feel like dancing, so I knew it was the one.) We met a couple of other contest winners who were staying in our hotel, and we shared a cab with them to the Staples Center. Because of the heavy security, the cab driver had to drop us off several blocks away from the arena. Once inside, we discovered that our seats were way up at the top, but I didn’t care. I was beyond thrilled just to be there.
One of the most memorable performances for me was Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone’s tribute to Janis Joplin. It was Melissa Etheridge’s first major public performance since undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and her electrified performance brought down the house. Another high point for me was seeing Keith Urban perform in a tribute to southern rock. This was also the year that John Mayer won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his song “Daughters.” Los Lonely Boys won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for “Heaven” and they were a part of the show’s opening. From our vantage point, we could see the artists waiting in the wings, preparing to take the stage. It was surreal to see Bono in an unguarded moment before coming out to perform.
Returning to our hotel after the ceremony, we went up to the rooftop pool and basked in the warm California night. Coming back home the next day felt like reverse culture shock. No more palm trees, no more sunshine, no more glamorous California Grammy life. Every year I watch the show from my couch and reminisce about one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life. Maybe I’ll try on my lavender silk Grammy dress and see if it still fits.
Also check out:
Alisa Snow is a reference librarian at the Main Library. During awards show season, she can usually be found on her couch with a big bowl of popcorn.